Tarquin never wanted to be a Mage, but his bloodline demands it of him. He knows, one day, in order to save the realm, he may be forced to sacrifice himself, but he can’t help wishing that day never comes. When an outlying village requests help with a monster, Tarquin goes to their aid, never expecting to find the resurrection of a powerful foe.
Five doesn’t remember his name or how he became what he is. He simply knows he is now more monster than man and that he was once a Shield, sworn to protect those who could not protect themselves. Despite his outward appearance, Five has made it his mission to defend a tiny village from a pair of bloodthirsty haldur and soon finds himself battling along side a royal Mage. They barely survive and find themselves confronted by a terrible reality: the haldur have escaped their magical confinement and now stand poised to destroy the realm. Together Five and Tarquin must find a way to save the capital city of Kel and the royal family, even if means losing everything they cherish, including one another.
Blood for Magic was an excellent, quick-paced fantasy that stumbled a few times, but overall did a good job of balancing characterization with plot and world building. Tarquin is a royal Mage and as such is considered a rare and extremely powerful form of magician. But his power comes from the sacrifice of his own blood, which means he perpetually risking himself to save those around him. Tarquin is brave, but young, and some of his actions read as filled with the impetuous stubbornness of youth. He is often too quick to throw himself into harm’s way instead of trying a different path. Yet there is no maliciousness in him and his willingness to die for those he loves reads as compelling and you always want to cheer him on. Five is a conundrum for much of the book. Trapped in an outwardly monstrous form, he can neither speak nor remember much of his past life but his devotion to Tarquin and to his calling as a Shield is absolute. These two work together on most levels, despite not having much of a courtship. They meet and seem almost bound together from that point forward. It borders on insta-love, but doesn’t fall quite over the edge and while I would have preferred a more realistic maturation of their relationship, the scenes between Tarquin and Five have an easy, natural flow that I enjoyed.
For as much as I enjoyed Blood For Magic, I often felt as though I was trying to put together a puzzle with too many missing pieces. Critical events were referred to in an off handed manner, as if the reader was simply supposed to understand the reference. Most of this information struck me as fairly important and, while the plot was strong enough to sustain the book despite the gaps, it left me scratching my head more than once. Many of these pieces are filled in during the last fourth of the book and while I appreciated finally having the answers to my questions, they came in a rather jumbled rush that could have been spaced out more evenly.
There is a solid secondary cast and while we aren’t ever given a lot of information about them, they are imbibed with enough life and charisma to make them an important part of the story. Especially strong is Tarquin’s sister in law who shines as both a supportive shoulder to lean on and something of a magical mentor as she aides Tarquin in finding a new way to channel his power.
Overall Blood for Magic was an incredibly enjoyable read from an author is steadily becoming one of my favorites. The fantasy elements here are strong, but for the most part they don’t drown out the relationship between Five and Tarquin. While there were times I was frustrated due to a lack of information, the plot and pacing were generally well done and Tarquin and Five were a wonderful pair of protagonists. Consider Blood for Magic if you’re in the mood for a fantasy with plenty of action and an enjoyable romance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.